Midfield has been a problem area for years for Manchester United and it seems that Louis Van Gaal may target a high profile signing. But who is most likely to play their football at the Theater of Dreams next year?
Manchester United have signed two players in Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera and with decent options upfront with Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney. It seems most likely that Van Gaal will look to strengthen the defence but also he needs to sign a midfielder as Tom Cleverly and Marouane Fellaini have failed to impress, while Michael Carrick will miss the first number of weeks through injury.
But who are the Manchester giants likely to sign to add quality to what many fans have seen as a problem area. The three players listed below have most recently been linked with Manchester United and, according to speculation, are the players that Van Gaal is looking to add to the squad.
Arturo Vidal – Juventus
Manchester United have been linked all summer to the 27-year-old. Vidal is one of the finest midfielders in world football combining technical ability with a high level of work rate. The Chile international combines vision, creativity and aggression as well as a will to win in midfield.
Vidal confidently told reporters in January:
But it’s quite clear for me that I’m the best in my role. Nobody puts in as much defensive work as I do and then scores a lot of goals on top of it as well.
The Juventus midfielder scored an impressive 18 goals from midfield last year while providing five assists and also averaging a tackle every 19 minutes making a total of 130 tackles last year the third highest in the league. The midfielder can provide a significant contribution defensively and offensively which is why he is one of the finest midfielders in the game at present.
Talk of move to Manchester however may prove to be difficult as Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri expects Vidal to remain with the Serie A champions:
Vidal will stay here and he’s very happy about this, he told reporters. I spoke with him about his fitness, we’re happy he will stay with us.
Juan Cuadrado – Fiorentina
Recent speculation has linked Manchester United with Juan Cuadrado. Barcelona are also thought to be long term admirers of the winger, they however could be priced out of a move for the Colombian.
The 26-year-old agent Daniel Prade has made it clear that Cuadrado could leave if they receive an offer of €50m.
If an offer of €50 million were to come in, we would be willing to open talks. But there’s no such offer as of yet, Prade told Sky Sports 24.
We hope that Cuadrado will continue to play for Fiorentina. There has not been an official offer for him.
We are in constant contact with the player and his agent. He will return to the club on August fourth or fifth. We will then talk with him.
The 26-year-old winger also enjoyed a stellar season at Fiorentina and while he had been highly regarded around Europe, he is only now getting the recognition his talent deserves.
Cuadrado provided four assists and scored one goal at the World Cup with two assists coming in the opening game against Greece. While his performances were somewhat overshadowed by the brilliance of teammate James Rodriguez, the Colombian winger was a joy to watch with his pace, trickery and relentless running catching the eye.
It was last season in Serie A that the pacey winger really came to the fore scoring eleven goals and providing five assists. However, it was also his tactical awareness that was impressive appearing in a number of different positions for Fiorentina and this added versatility could catch the eye of Louis Van Gaal who likes to utilize his players in different positions and roles.
Louis Van Gaal may utilize a 3-5-2 or 4-3-3 at Old Trafford in the coming season and Cuadrado would be perfect for both systems as he is renowned for his athletic ability and can also contribute defensively in a wing back role. However, it is his attacking prowess that could really offer Manchester United some of the flair and pace that they were lacking last year.
Kevin Strootman – AS Roma
Van Gaal has worked with Strootman with the Netherlands national team. The 24-year-old midfielder missed the World Cup through injury but is expected to be fit by the end of September.
Strootman is also a box-to-box midfielder that would add quality in the Manchester United midfield. He enjoyed a stellar debut season in Serie A averaging an 88% passing accuracy while scoring five goals and providing six assists in 25 appearances. These qualities combined with the work rate of the 24-year-old would see him as a midfielder ideally suited to the demands of the Premier League.
Roma manager Rudi Garcia is adamant that Strootman will stay at the Serie A club who finished as runner’s up to Juventus last year.
Strootman is a Roma player. He will be a Roma player this year. There is no doubt about that, Garcia said on the eve of Roma’s friendly against United in Denver.
Only he can say whether he wants to stay but it was never an issue for him to go to another club. There is no question of it.
Van Gaal is reportedly very keen on the midfielder who he sees as having the qualities to play in a 3-5-2 system. Van Gaal is clearly monitoring the player’s progress
But Strootman I can judge, but he is injured for more than six months. We have to wait and see how he comes back. It is not easy to say how he comes back from injury, but we will wait and see.
It will be an interesting next few weeks at Old Trafford. There is likely to be new additions to the squad and don’t be surprised if one of these three targets end up at Manchester United who have indicated that they are likely to spend big to add quality to their squad.
Dan Dalton, Pundit Arena.